Senate remains deadlocked on highway bill

Feb. 10, 2004 at 6:24 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Senate efforts to debate a massive $318 billion highway construction bill deadlocked Tuesday over cost and other concerns.

Despite broad bipartisan support for the surface transportation construction measure, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he would like to cut the cost to as low as $290 billion due to Bush administration opposition to the high price tag.

Bush reportedly told Frist and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., Monday evening that the cost must be more in line with the $256 billion proposed by the White House.

House Majority Leader Tom Delay, R-Texas, told reporters Tuesday the GOP leadership might attach the $31 bill energy bill approved by the House last year to its transportation measure if the Senate continues with efforts to add a stripped-down version of the energy bill, which failed to garner Senate passage in December, to its highway bill.

While Delay indicated he hoped to avoid renegotiating that measure, the main backer of such a move in the Senate, Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said Tuesday it was unlikely the move would be taken due to the divisiveness of the proposal.

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